Government eyes more labor attaches next year

Alexis Romero - The Philippine Star
Government eyes more labor attaches next year
Undated file photo of Overseas Filipino workers, locally stranded individuals and passengers with cancelled domestic fl ights wait at the NAIA-2’s departure area.
STAR / Rudy Santos, file

BRUSSELS — The Marcos administration is planning to set up more labor attachés to promote the welfare of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs), whose remittances have kept the Philippine economy afloat during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Migrant Workers Secretary Susan Ople said her agency, which was created through a law enacted last year, would soon be provided with a budget, allowing it to add more labor attachés. The Department of Migrant Workers will have its allocation once President Marcos signs the 2023 national budget into law.

“Next year, we will have a budget. We can now provide more help to you. We will add labor attachés,” Ople told members of the Filipino community yesterday here. “We will study where in Europe we can add them.”

A labor attaché is tasked to ensure that all the rights, benefits and welfare of Filipino migrant workers are protected. It also ensures that the job contracts of OFWs are consistent with prevailing employment laws, standards and practices in both the Philippines and the host country.

Ople said the government has undertaken measures to assist Filipinos who want to return to the Philippines for good. “We are working on the agreements. President Marcos wants us to teach those who are returning home and who have stayed abroad for a long time to invest. Our partner is the Department of Trade and Industry and Go Negosyo,” the migrant workers secretary said.

Ople said the agriculture and agrarian reform departments would assist OFWs who want to venture into agriculture and agribusiness enterprises.

“Food security is important. For returning OFWs, the government may let you use its idle lands so you can earn,” Ople said, adding that the information and communications technology department will also help upskill Filipino workers to remain competitive.

Gov’t has your back

In his meeting with the Filipino community here yesterday, Marcos assured migrant workers of the government’s continued assistance and praised them for enhancing the Philippines’ image through their work ethic.

He said his administration’s eight point socio-economic program aims to create opportunities in the Philippines and to support those who wish to set up their own businesses.

“One day, you will no longer be driven by the lack of opportunities in choosing to go abroad... I hope the day will come where Filipinos work abroad because of a better position, not because they are forced to do so. But if you still decide to go abroad, it is of course a free choice; it will be because your expertise is needed... for your own professional growth or development,” the President said.

“With the combined expertise of the Department of Migrant Workers and the Department of Foreign Affairs, working in tandem with our embassies and consulates general abroad, if any Filipino chooses to go abroad, anywhere abroad, your government will have your back,” he added.

Marcos likewise lauded Filipinos in Europe for their dedication, generosity and kindness; qualities that he said helped enhance Philippines’ ties with other countries.

“The Filipino community organizations here in Europe continue to maintain deep and growing friendships with people of different nations. Filipinos in this part of the world will continue to be highly regarded because of your jolly and high-spirited manner, your hard work, your dedication,” he said.

“All of the locals here, all of your colleagues and acquaintances admire you and they all say that Filipinos are really good.”

Filipinos from Belgium, Luxembourg, the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Poland, the Netherlands and Switzerland attended the meeting with Marcos.

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